Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita has admitted that he never really liked teammate Michael Ennis, but now regards him one of the best mates he’s ever had.
Speaking before Ennis’ return to the NSW Origin side on Wednesday night, Fifita said the Sharks veteran deserved his recall.
But prior to Ennis’ arrival in the Shire this year, Fifita revealed he had never been much of a fan.
“Before this year I never really liked the guy because he was such a grub to us. But now I’d put him down as one of the best blokes I know,” he said.
“Champion on the field, champion off it and a champion I love to play with.
“No disrespect to (Robbie) Farah, but with a busted hand and a busted shoulder, they’d be mad not to play Mick who’s 100 per cent fit.”
In fact, since leaving Belmore, Ennis has been in better form than the incumbent Blues rake.
In 14 games, Ennis has totalled a combined 17 try and line break assists.
In 11 games, Farah has just four.
“The last time (Mick) played for the Sharks, he set me and two other blokes up for a try so he has points in his game,” Fifita said.
“And defensively he loves getting quick up off the line and putting on a shot against a bloke.
“He was always up in your face and as Bulldogs captain he always was setting the tone.
“But nowadays when I’ve been in a few little niggles and a few push-and-shoves, he’s the first bloke I see to my right or left because he’s in there with me.
“I have high respect for him and he’s one of the best motivators I’ve ever been around in my life.”
Fifita also described the former Canterbury leader as the catalyst for Cronulla’s improvement this season.
“I didn’t think anybody could top John Morris and the experience he brought with his 300 games, but Micky Ennis took it to another level. I just love playing with the guy,” he said.
After appearing in the Origin-opener in Sydney, Fifita made way for returning Blues skipper Paul Gallen but felt he hadn’t done enough to hold his spot in the team and was distracted by the impending birth of his second child.
“I had a lot on my mind at the time. I was worried about my wife,” he said.
“But you can tell that since I’ve had my second baby, my footy has gone to another level. So it’s been a good thing.
“Being away at Coffs Harbour when she was overdue, where she could’ve popped at any time, was the worst thing because I thought she would’ve popped on Origin night.
“But she came to the ground to watch and she looked okay. But in the back of my mind, once she had it, it was like a monkey off my back.”